Fluoride Action Network

Brisbane. North Pine fluoride plant back on line

Source: The Courier-Mail | October 9th, 2009 | By Brian Williams
Location: Australia

THE water treatment plant that overdosed then under-dosed Brisbane northside residents with fluoride in April is back on line with a guarantee problems will not occur again.

Equipment that failed has been replaced and a second automatic cut-off system fitted between the North Pine water treatment plant and the fluoride plant.

Seqwater spokesman Mike Foster said the fluoride dosing plant re-commissioning was under way.

“As with all fluoride plants when they are starting up, North Pine may be offline periodically for maintenance and fine-tuning over the three-month re-commissioning period,” Mr Foster said.

“Fluoride levels on average, are likely to be at lower than the regulated dose range but still at levels which deliver a health benefit.”

An independent report into the overdose, which affected up to 400 homes and a school camp, blamed the failure on the equipment and staff who did not respond properly to an alarm.

The incident embarrassed Premier Anna Bligh, with residents initially given wrong information about the date, area affected and dosage a fortnight after it occurred.

Report author Professor Mark Pascoe found Seqwater breached a raft of regulations, including failing to immediately notify regulators and that Linkwater, which is responsible for the water pipes, took too long to report the incident.

Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson said at the time that board sackings could occur and laws be introduced retrospectively to fine operators if the plant did not improve.

This week he introduced a Bill to Parliament which allows the Government to recover the costs of investigating water quality incidents from providers. It was retrospective to include the fluoride incident.

“While no one was dismissed as a result of this incident, Seqwater remains on notice from me that any further issues will not be tolerated,” Mr Robertson said.

Mr Foster said Seqwater did not respond as well as it should have to the incident but the automatic shutdown device would ensure the situation did not arise again.